WU council approve 1% franchise fee

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WU council approve 1% franchise fee

 

Becky Walz
Contributing Editor

 

Despite varying opinions, the West Union City Council voted to enact a 1 percent franchise fee with Black Hills Energy and Alliant Energy at Monday’s meeting.

“Personally, I support the 2 percent, but for the community, I move to pass a 1 percent franchise fee because of the impact it will have for individuals on a fixed income,” said Councilmember Cathy Bemiss when making her motion to approve.

Prior to Bemiss’ motion, West Union Fire Chief Roger Gamm asked the council to consider to continue giving the fire, street, and police departments and the employee benefits the funds they were to receive from LOST.

“It is what the public voted for. I see no reason to take away from that,” said Gamm.

Several West Union citizens expressed concern for how the franchise fee will affect the several departments that receive funding from the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST). Figures shown at the meeting display a decrease of $1,821.20 annually from the fire and street departments at the 1 percent rate.

Tom Luhman of West Union, also a volunteer fireman, said, “It’s what we voted for, and I don’t feel what we voted for was to take money away from those departments. You are taking revenue away from these other programs for new ones.”

Bemiss pointed out that other towns in Fayette County have been adopting franchise fees, which affects the remaining towns receiving LOST funds, as well.

Mike Lauer added, “We have already taken a hit on the LOST revenue because Oelwein adopted a franchise fee.”

City Administrator Bob Vagts added he believes that the City needs to look at other sources of revenue to keep the community moving forward, and he sees the sidewalk project benefiting the entire community.

Some of the monies generated by the new 1 percent franchise fee will help fund a sidewalk replacement/construction project.

Vagts estimated it would take six to eight months for the City to begin receiving monies from the agreed-upon franchise fee.

Vagts assured the council that many towns have begun to adopt franchise fees and that the fee percentage can be changed by public hearing and resolution at any time during the 25-year nonexclusive franchise agreement with Alliant Energy.

In other business, the council: 

• Approved hiring a part-time police officer for 20 hours per week to extend coverage later into the evenings and assist with special events throughout the year.

• Approved the vacating of the City-owned right of way at East Maple Street (near the former middle school basketball courts).

• Approved invoices totaling $1,373.25 to TeKippe Engineering for GIS mapping.

• Approved the closing of portions of Vine Street for the Streetscape Grand Opening event scheduled for Thursday, July 11. 

The next meeting of the West Union City Council will be at 6 p.m. Monday, July 1, at City Hall.

 
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